Who out there has ever wondered how a blogger makes a living publishing online? Bossy put your hand down. Well, today Bossy would like to explain to her esteemed council how it (doesn’t) work! Shall we?
Take this blog. Please. In the early days of I Am Bossy — which was when Dinosaurs roamed the gaseous silica that would become the earth — Bossy had no ads on her site. Just smart, investigative journalism! That and lots of photos scribbled with arrows.
Then everything changed, where everything equals Bossy noticed there were a couple of companies that were acting as online advertising networks, connecting groups of blogs with corporate advertising dollars.
Don’t get Bossy wrong, there was some backlash against blogs that had ads on their site. These bloggers were accused of selling out. But in Bossy’s opinion, in order to sell out you actually have to be earning something! And so Bossy chose to put ads on her blog.
Two of the biggest networks performing this online advertising agency function at the time were Federated Media and BlogHer. In fact, they are still the two biggest dicks in town!
The idea here was major corporations would go to one of these companies, which fashioned themselves as online communities of bloggers, and offer up an ad, which Federated Media and/or BlogHer would stick in the side columns of the blogs in their system!
And then every time a reader would visit a page with one of these ads — the reader didn’t even have to click on the ad — the blogger would make money! An infinitesimal amount of cute money!
It’s not Federated Media or BlogHer’s fault that this method of earning hold the earning is problematic. When blogs first appeared, it was difficult to convince corporations that blogs were a worthwhile place to advertise.
Back then, Bossy would call corporations directly trying to muster up sponsorships and giveaways — where call equals email — and corporations were all, Who are you and what have you done with my traditional print ad?
Sometimes Bossy would manage to cut a deal with a corporation to write about their product in exchange for something she could offer to her readers, like a giveaway of their product. And in turn, Bossy would be paid in stuff like toilet paper and barbeque sauce (although not necessarily in that order.)
Until, that is, corporations realized blogs were in fact a worthwhile place to advertise. This realization could have a little something to do with the fact most people now get their news and entertainment from online sources because their favorite newspapers and magazines are inconveniently out of business.
It was at this time that large corporations and marketing companies formed social media departments to figure out how to do business with an online community.
And somewhere along the way, these social media people within corporations and marketing departments said to themselves, Hey selves! These staid ads in the sidebar aren’t nearly as dynamic as when the blogger writes about our product within their main content!
And so corporations and marketing departments began to structure a larger percentage of their advertising dollar around reviews and giveaways. In this way they were able to offer bloggers slightly more money because they saw a greater value in these campaigns.
One major downside to these more integrated ad campaigns is the often-annoying mandatory language that accompanies these posts. And for this Bossy apologizes.
Bossy understands that this current method of earning money hold the money may not be optimal, but she can’t see another way of doing business at the moment. Not, at least, if Bossy wants to hold on to this blog.
And Bossy knows what some of you are saying. You are saying, But why do you deserve to make money, Bossy, when all you do is drink all day with your friend Martha? To which Bossy would answer: You’re wrong! Bossy doesn’t drink all day with her friend Martha! Bossy drinks all day by herself!
Bossy admits she hasn’t been posting as regularly here, but some of that has to do with this exact uncertainty about how to navigate the future in terms of her earning potential.
Sometimes Bossy thinks the answer is to embrace even more integrated, well-paying ad campaigns. And sometimes Bossy thinks she’d rather offer her blog at a one-dollar yearly membership fee with absolutely no product mentions ever. But how many readers would actually pay it? And how?
Thus concludes today’s tutorial on Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About How Bloggers (Don’t) Make Money.
What say you, esteemed council?